Thursday, April 26, 2018

Science, Consensus and Polar Bears

The following article appeared in Powerline on April 25th

By John Hinderaker

Polar bears have become an icon of the global warming movement. The theory is that global warming reduces the volume of Arctic sea ice, which in turn impacts polar bear habitat. Notwithstanding the fact that polar bears have survived through multiple ice ages and warm periods, and in recent years polar bear populations have grown rather than shrinking, the Left finds it convenient to use them for political purposes.

Polar Bear Science is a web site run by Susan Crockford, one of the world’s leading experts on polar bears, with over 35 years of experience and many scientific publications. Recently, she was viciously attacked in the New York Times (where else) by leftists who were outraged that she pointed out the fact, based on published data, that climate alarmists’ predictions about polar bear populations have not come true.

At Polar Bear Science, polar bear specialist Mitchell Taylor writes about scientific accountability in the degraded era in which we live. Who is Dr. Taylor?

Dr. Mitch Taylor was a member of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) as a polar bear scientist representing Canada for 28 years (1981-2008) but in 2009 he was booted out by chairman Andrew Derocher for his skeptical views on human-caused global warming. The group then changed their rules on membership to justify their actions.

Dr. Taylor writes:

It has become a lot more difficult to talk about polar bears since they became an icon for climate change as a cause.

The new model [Regehr et al. 2016] guarantees that polar bears will decline by decoupling the model’s population projections from climate model forecasts of sea ice conditions….
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[Footnote: By de-coupling I meant that Regehr’s model [Regehr et al. 2016] has no input from the GCMs [General Circulation Models] for sea ice dynamics. If you suddenly reduced CO2 levels somehow, the GCMs would respond by predicting an increase in sea ice. Regehr’s model uses a simple regression fit to sea ice decline as measured since the satellite record began in 1979. As you know, sea ice declined faster than the GCMs predicted. So the PBSG has have given up on the climate models and now they just use the historical slope to project continued sea ice decline forward. In other words, their current argument for up-listing polar bears due to anthropogenic global warming is now entirely independent of atmospheric CO2 levels. It seems the PBSG agrees that climate models are not predictive with respect to sea ice which was their central argument for up-listing them in the first place.

As practiced by the alarmists, climate “science” has no integrity.

There are two ways to get a scientific consensus. One is to present the data and the analysis in a manner that is so persuasive that everyone is convinced. The other way is to exclude or marginalize anyone who does not agree. This occurs so commonly now that it has become an accepted practice. The practice of science has become secondary to governments, NGOs, journals, and scientists who feel that the ends justify the means.

The response to Susan’s work is politically motivated, not an argument against her conclusions. The journal’s response to this article and to her complaint was also political. Sadly, BioScience is not a credible scientific journal anymore. We have fake news and fake science.

Fake science is a good description for pretty much all global warming alarmism.

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